Barry T. Smitherman

Barry T. Smitherman

  • Adjunct Professor

Faculty Profile: Barry T. Smitherman

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Barry Smitherman is an attorney, consultant, private investor, and board member. He is the Chairman, President, and co-founder of the Texas Geothermal Energy Alliance (TxGEA), an organization dedicated to education, public awareness, and advocacy on behalf of the Texas geothermal industry. ( Barry presently serves as an independent director of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (, a Houston-based electric and gas delivery utility serving almost 3 million electric metered customers in the greater Houston area and in southern Indiana, and 4 million natural gas customers in several states, including Texas. 

In 2022-23, Barry was honored by the Texas Law Alumni Association as a Distinguished Alumnus for Community Service. 

Barry is the immediate past Chairman of Brookwood in Georgetown (BIG), a God-centered vocational community that provides meaningful work, housing, and a sense of belonging, dignity and respect for adults in Central Texas with functional disabilities.  BIg's 'Citizens' are empowered to become artisians, bakers, gardeners, cardmakers, and much more. ( 

Barry served on the Texas Railroad Commission from 2011 through 2014, and was Chairman of the Commission from March 2012 through August 2014. Initially appointed by Governor Rick Perry to a vacant seat on the RRC, Barry ran for statewide election, in November 2012, garnering 73% of the general election vote. In 2014, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Texas Attorney General.

Prior to the RRC, Barry was on the Public Utility Commission of Texas, from April 2004 through July 2011, and was Chairman for the last four years of his tenure. During this time, he served two terms on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Electricity Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC,) was Chairman of the NARUC Gas Committee, the ERCOT Board of Directors, the Southern States Energy Board, the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission, and the Regional State Committee of the Southwest Power Pool.

Barry has also served on the boards of Ballet Austin, the Eanes ISD Educational Foundation, the Texas Public Finance Authority, the Harris County Health Facilities Development Corporation, and was Vice-Chairman of the Texas Advisory Panel on Environmental Regulations. 

Barry was formerly on the Board of Directors of NRG Energy, Inc., a large Texas-based independent power producer which also owns a number of retail electric providers active in the ERCOT market. (  Before joining NRG, he was a partner at Vinson & Elkins, LLP. (

Prior to beginning public service, Barry spent 16 years as an investment banker, holding leadership positions with J.P. Morgan Securities, The First Boston Corporation, and Banc One Capital Markets (now part of JP Morgan Chase), where he was a Managing Director and National Head of the Public Finance group.  During this time, he led the capital markets offering of over $7.5 billion in tax-exempt bonds and notes on behalf of state and local governments. 

Barry received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law, his M.P.A. from Harvard University, and his B.B.A. summa cum laude from Texas A&M University. He has been married for 37 years, has four grown children, and two adorable (and smart) granddaughters.